A NEW bus service linking a town centre with its outskirts has officially launched.

West Oxfordshire Community Transport (WOCT) previously announced its Carterton Connector service would set off on March 2.

In a socially distanced ceremony last week, the keys were handed over by the town’s mayor Nick Leverton, and deputy mayor, Jill Bull.

The new service will link the north and south edges of the town with the centre, via two new routes – the 345 North Circular, and the 355 South Circular.

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The Carterton Connector becomes the third route offered by WOCT, a not-for-profit co-operative formed in 2017.

It follows Witney town services and the 210 service, which links Witney to the Wychwoods.

The two new Carterton routes, which are supported by Carterton Town Council, will begin at the Asda supermarket and will run hourly on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings.

The 345 route will depart on the hour from 9am to 1pm, and the 355 at 35 minutes past the hour from 9.35am to 12.35pm.

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WOCT director Margaret Burden said: “This service has been such a long time coming.

“After all the hard work put in by residents of the Carterton community and the support from Carterton Town Council, we are really excited that it is happening at last.

“Residents of Carterton – particularly those who do not have access to their own transport – will benefit from this route by linking them to essential services in Carterton town centre.

“We believe that a community where people are interconnected is a strong and healthy one, and bus services are one of the keys for helping this to happen.”

Carterton mayor Nick Leverton said: “The new bus service will increase the mobility of our residents and will enable them to access our wide range of local shops and amenities, such as the library, local support groups, places of worship and the health centre.”

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To save commuters waiting unnecessarily in the cold or rain, each day on the WOCT Facebook page, a tracking link is published for travellers to use and see exactly where their bus is.

Users can access the live tracker every day on the WOCT Facebook page.

During the coronavirus pandemic, WOCT asks riders to: not use its buses if you feel unwell; wear a face mask, in line with Government rules; sanitise your hands on entering the bus; sit next to a window, and at least one seat away from other passengers; only share a seat if you are from the same household, and pay using a contactless card.

If you can only pay by cash, WOCT will only accept the correct amount.

Buses are sanitised between each journey, and deep-cleaned at the end of each shift, while drivers are provided with face masks, gloves and hand sanitiser.